Archive | November 5th, 2015

The Pentagon’s Unholy Alliance with Missionaries

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

The reckless use of a charity to sneak spy equipment into North Korea will endanger Christians across the world.

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By Philip Giraldi

Was a Christian non-governmental organization funded by the Pentagon used to smuggle spy equipment into North Korea? Investigative journalist Matthew Cole of the The Intercept has done yeoman’s work in ferreting out the details of what must surely be one of the most ill-conceived military intelligence operations of all time, and that is saying quite a lot. And Congress was reportedly fully briefed on it, though that has been denied by at least one member of the Intelligence Oversight Committee, who accuses the Pentagon of never pausing to consider the potential blowback that it might produce.

With apologies to Cole for any omissions or misunderstandings on my part, the story goes something like this: in 2004 the Pentagon, fired up by the need to “protect the country” post 9/11, was keen on muscling in on the CIA’s virtual monopoly on strategic intelligence collection. Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin, former head of the counter-terrorist Delta Force and at that time deputy in the Pentagon’s office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was tasked with improving collection for the military consumers in key crisis areas, including Iran and North Korea. He turned to the task of creating cover mechanisms to be used by his new corps of clandestine warriors.

Boykin, supported by his boss Stephen Cambone and also by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, soon came up with a scheme to smuggle electronic monitoring equipment and other spyware into top priority target North Korea. In intelligence jargon, North Korea was (and still is) the ultimate “denied area,” a society and government difficult or even nearly impossible to penetrate because of strict population control and a high level of security. At that time the United States had no spies inside the secretive nuclear-armed country telling Washington what was going on. What little information was available on North Korea came primarily from surveillance satellites, from South Korea’s own spy services, and from the very limited intelligence that was being shared by China.

Boykin, who might reasonably be described as an extremely devout evangelical Christian, worked with another evangelical Christian acquaintance named Kay Hiramine to use an existing religious charity he ran called Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG). HISG was to be developed as a mechanism to create a so-called rat line enabling the smuggling of monitoring equipment into North Korea under cover of shipments of used clothing that the regime in Pyongyang was occasionally allowing to enter the country.

The HISG charity was funded by the Pentagon to the tune of an estimated $15 million during the course of the operation, all of which was channeled through three proprietary cover mechanisms. New Millennium Trust, run by a former Delta Force military lawyer, funneled money to an ostensible charity called Working Partners Foundation, run by a car dealer in Colorado who was paid $252,000 in 2006, which in turn passed the money on to HISG. A separate entity called Private Sector Consulting paid HISG salaries and provided other support. The cover mechanisms for funding were established to move the money and conceal the Department of Defense connection. Haramine, for his part, received a $281,351 salary from Private Sector Consulting.

Whether anything could in fact be smuggled into North Korea past the suspicious and watchful border security guards was questionable, but in a test run the HISG charity managed to successfully conceal a large number of bibles in a hidden compartment at the bottom of a shipping container topped up with used winter clothing, a highly prized commodity for starving and freezing North Koreans.

From that point the narrative gets a little bit fuzzy. Boykin retired from the Pentagon in 2007 but the program continued to run with one officer describing it as a “jobs program” for Boykin’s friends, most of whom appear to be, like him, evangelical Christians. It is reported that short wave radios and some electronic devices intended to monitor nuclear programs as well as interfere with North Korean military communications were indeed smuggled into the country by unwitting Christian missionaries, aid workers, and Chinese smugglers, but whether they provided any critical intelligence is unclear. The operation continued to run during the Obama administration, finally winding down in 2013. While it is certain that George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knew of and approved the operation, it is not known if either the Bush or Obama White Houses had explicit knowledge of it.

Some background on the usual restraints governing how the United States runs covert intelligence operations overseas is necessary. The charity involved in the Pentagon initiative is what is referred to as a non-governmental organization, or NGO. NGOs are not organized like businesses or corporations in that their primary objective is only peripherally linked to making money and their objectives vary considerably. The ones that are encountered overseas frequently have either charitable or educational functions.

NGOs are fair game for infiltration and cover by intelligence organizations, but their exploitation in that fashion is extremely uncommon. That is because it is impossible to control all the unwitting players in an NGO and any such operation would be susceptible to eventual exposure, with the damage derived from potential blowback far exceeding any possible gain.

The United States government does in fact impose a ban on recruiting certain categories of individuals as spies. Clergymen are off limits partly for ethical reasons but more because the exposure of such a relationship would be devastating both to the religious organization itself and to the United States government. Use of the U.S. taxpayer-funded Peace Corps is also banned because exploiting it would potentially turn its volunteers into targets for terrorists. Recruitment of journalists whose reporting potentially might appear in the U.S. media is also forbidden because the distribution of intelligence agency-produced stories could be construed as an attempt to covertly influence opinion and policies inside the United States. Ironically, the federal government officially opposes spy agency disinformation even though it does the same thing through the judicious leaking of information from the White House and Pentagon.

NGOs and individuals that operate as charities like Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), the victim of the recent bombing in Kunduz, Afghanistan, might in theory be exploited by an intelligence agency. But there is considerable risk of unfortunate consequences when doing so. One need only cite the case of the Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who was recruited in 2011 as part of the CIA’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden. Afridi covered his search for bin Laden DNA by providing vaccinations against polio. After the story broke, polio eradication projects throughout south Asia foundered, leading to a resurgence in the disease and the injuring and killing by militants of numerous health care workers. Exploiting a humanitarian medical cover proved to be damaging to everyone involved, particularly as a risk-versus-gain analysis suggests that the information provided by Shakil Afridi did not in any way prove critical to the success of the operation to kill bin Laden. In 2014, the White House announced that U.S. intelligence would no longer exploit vaccination programs.

When the Pentagon sought to exploit a religious charity to infiltrate North Korea, all kinds of red flags should have gone up. But they did not because Boykin was relying on his personal relationships and his status as a former head of Delta Force to make the operation untouchable. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who served on the Intelligence Committee at the time, insists that no one in Congress was briefed. She commented astutely on the downside to the operation, observing that “…to use unwitting aid workers on behalf of an intelligence operation, people who genuinely do humanitarian work, to turn their efforts into intel collection is unacceptable. Now we have people who have been hired to do some good work and become unwitting accomplices to an intelligence mission? They can face all kinds of retaliation. It is completely unacceptable.”

Intelligence officers and combat arms soldiers pride themselves on being able to “get the job done” in spite of all obstacles, which often blinds them to the consequences of their actions. Boykin, a product of that tradition—and driven by his own conceit that he needed to do what was necessary to “save” the United States—inevitably failed to recognize that the eventual exposure of the scheme would produce a reaction among foreigners who are already inclined to be suspicious of proselytizing Christians. Now it will be plausibly believed that Christian charities are actually hotbeds of American spies and the likely response will be commensurate with that perception. Using a Christian charity to spy puts at risk all the employees and volunteers linked to that specific organization while helping propagate the myth that any indigenous Christian is a potential traitor.

HISG and its three cover support mechanisms were all disbanded in 2013-14, but not because the Pentagon was concerned about the possible consequences of its actions. It seems that the operation had provided little useful intelligence, not a particularly surprising outcome: Using unwitting and unfocused humanitarian charity volunteers and employees to smuggle in spy gear was a non-starter right from the beginning and should never have been attempted.

I am waiting for a sheepish Pentagon or White House to proclaim that it will never again exploit religiously-affiliated groups as intelligence cover mechanisms. But unfortunately, all I am hearing is silence.

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ABDUL-JABBAR: BEN CARSON PRESIDENCY WOULD BE ‘UNMITIGATED DISASTER’ FOR BLACK AMERICANS

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by TONY LEE

Former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes out swinging against Dr. Ben Carson, writing that Carson would be a terrible president and an “unmitigated disaster” for black Americans.

In a Wednesday Time op-ed, Abdul-Jabbar first concedes that Carson “is good for African Americans in that he is a deeply moral man who has done much good as a physician and now wants to upsize his good-doing on a national and global scale” and acknowledges that Carson’s “success story is the stuff the American Dream is made of and is motivation for others to follow his path.”

“His accomplishments as a medical doctor are admirable and serve as an inspiration for young black men and women seeking a career in science. His measured, even groggy demeanor, commands attention and respect,” he writes. “Had he decided to dedicate his post-retirement life to promoting STEM education across the country, he would have been a model for the American ideal that anything is possible.”

But God forbid such an accomplished man run for president as a conservative and potentially get black voters to consider voting for the GOP and think about how failed left-wing policies have impoverished their communities and not given them opportunities to move up the economic ladder. Abdul-Jabbar writes that Carson “chose to run for president of the U.S., and that’s bad for African-Americans.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s op-ed was published on the day a new Quinnipiac poll was released that found Carson with a 10-point lead over Hillary Clinton largely because he gets 19% of the black vote compared to 73% for Clinton. The poll led the African-American publicationThe Grio to declare that Carson “could beat the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a general election, and it might just be with the help of African-American voters.”Carson even leads Clinton among women voters (45%-44%).

Though Breitbart News Editor-at-Large John Nolte exposed Abdul-Jabbar’s past oppressive views toward women, which prompted Abdul-Jabbar to directly respond and declare that he no longer held those views, Abdul-Jabbar writes that Carson’s “repressive, muddled and pious policies and opinions often run against our Constitution—but his questionable proposals will likely, thankfully, be doomed by his lack of political expertise.”

Writing without any sense of irony regarding President Barack Obama’s many instances of leading from behind, Jabbar writes that a Carson presidency “would definitely not be good for African Americans to have a president who flounders helplessly in office because it would perpetuate the stereotype that blacks can’t be effective CEOs, quarterbacks and leaders.”

Abdul-Jabbar also takes issue with Carson’s belief that “sexual orientation is a choice” and skepticism about global warming. He also says that Carson’s “judgment as a man of science was also compromised last February when he blamed an outbreak of measles on illegal immigrants from South and Central America” and accuses Carson of perpetuating “the black stereotype of someone who’s too confused or frightened by all that complicated science so he or she ignores it, clinging to superstitions or religion.”

“Obviously, white politicians have been making the same buffoonish claims, but they aren’t representative of a minority struggling to achieve equality,” Abdul-Jabbar writes.

He also takes Carson’s comments about Democrats manipulating blacks and taking their votes for granted out of context, claiming that Carson has referred to “black Americans as unable to think for themselves because they disagree with him.” Because Carson opposes Obamacare, Abdul-Jabbar says that “a Carson presidency would also be a direct attack on the health of African-Americans.” Responding to Carson’s comparison of Obamacare to slavery, Abdul-Jabbar says that “poverty is the form of slavery that is most insidious in America, and it is perpetuated by institutional racism, which Ben Carson seems to deny exists.

“These are the times when all Americans need a champion willing to fight hard to fix the problems that affect people from all walks of life, not deny or ignore them,” Abdul-Jabbar opines. “Ben Carson is not that champion.”

 

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ HANDS OUT CANDY TO CELEBRATE CIVILIAN DEATHS ABOARD RUSSIAN PLANE

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Daily Mirror/screenshot

As Western intelligence agencies consider the possibility that ISIS destroyed a Russian airliner over Egypt, killing 224 civilians, the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ seems eager to take credit for the deed.

A new video released through social media shows Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ militants handing out candy to happy supporters and celebrating the destruction of the plane, after which a group of ‘ISIS’ thugs discuss the plane crash as a successful operation:

According to the UK Daily Star, the video appears to have been filmed in the Nineveh province of Iraq, where there is a large Saudi Zio-Wahhabi  presence.

An ‘ISIS’ affiliate in Egypt that calls itself “Sinai Province” has claimed direct responsibility for the attack, and said they would soon reveal how they carried it out. “The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God,” said a Twitter message from the group.

Egyptian security officials have ridiculed the claim that Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ brought the plane down, noting that they do not have the technology or skill to hit an aircraft flying at over 30,000 feet with a missile, but a bomb planted aboard the plane before take off would be another matter.

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America’s Chalabi Legacy of Lies

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By Robert Parry

Government officials who pushed the Iraq War in 2002-2003 are fond of claiming that they were simply deceived by “bad intelligence,” but the process was not that simple. In reality, there was a mutually reinforcing scheme to flood the U.S. intelligence community with false data and then to pressure the analysts not to show professional skepticism.

In other words, in the capital of the most powerful nation on earth, a system had evolved that was immune to the normal rules of evidence and respect for reality. Propaganda had become the name of the game, a dangerous process that remains in force to this day.

Regarding the Iraq War case, one of the principal culprits fueling this disinformation machine was Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, who died on Nov. 3 at the age of 71 from a heart attack. Chalabi, head of the U.S./neocon-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC), not only pumped intentionally false data into this process but later congratulated his organization as “heroes in error” for rationalizing the invasion of Iraq.

The INC’s principal tactic was to deluge the U.S. intelligence community – and the mainstream media – with “defectors” who provided lurid accounts of the Iraqi government hiding WMD caches and concealing its ties to Al Qaeda terrorists. Because of the welcoming climate for these lies – which were trumpeted by neoconservatives and other influential Washington operatives – there was little or no pushback.

Only after the U.S. invasion and the failure to discover the alleged WMD stockpiles did the U.S. intelligence community reconstruct how the INC’s deceptions had worked. As the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee belatedly discovered, some “defectors” had been coached by the INC, which was fabricating a casus belli against Iraq.

In 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a little-noticed study on the role of phony “defectors.” The report revealed not only specific cases of coached Iraqi “defectors” lying to intelligence analysts but a stunning failure of the U.S. political/media system to challenge the lies. The intimidated U.S. intelligence process often worked like a reverse filter, letting the dross of disinformation pass through.

The Iraqi “defectors” and their stories also played into a sophisticated propaganda campaign by neocon pundits and pro-war officials who acted as intellectual shock troops to bully the few U.S. voices of skepticism. With President George W. Bush eager for war with Iraq – and Democrats in Congress fearful of being labeled “soft on terror” – the enforced “group think” led the United States to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003.

According to the Senate report, the official U.S. relationship with these Iraqi exiles dated back to 1991 after President George H.W. Bush had routed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait and wanted to help Hussein’s domestic opponents.

Start of a Complicated Friendship

In May 1991, the CIA approached Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who had not lived in Iraq since 1956. Chalabi was far from a perfect opposition candidate, however. Beyond his long isolation from his homeland, Chalabi was a fugitive from bank fraud charges in Jordan. Still, in June 1992, the Iraqi exiles held an organizational meeting in Vienna, Austria, out of which came the Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi emerged as the group’s chairman and most visible spokesman.

But Chalabi soon began rubbing CIA officers the wrong way. They complained about the quality of his information, the excessive size of his security detail, his lobbying of Congress, and his resistance to working as a team player. For his part, the smooth-talking Chalabi bristled at the idea that he was a U.S. intelligence asset, preferring to see himself as an independent political leader. Nevertheless, he and his organization were not averse to accepting American money.

With U.S. financial backing, the INC waged a propaganda campaign against Hussein and arranged for “a steady stream of low-ranking walk-ins” to provide intelligence about the Iraqi military, the Senate Intelligence Committee report said.

The INC’s mix of duties – propaganda and intelligence – would create concerns within the CIA as would the issue of Chalabi’s “coziness” with the Shiite government of Iran. The CIA concluded that Chalabi was double-dealing both sides when he falsely informed Iran that the United States wanted Iran’s help in conducting anti-Hussein operations.

“Chalabi passed a fabricated message from the White House to” an Iranian intelligence officer in northern Iraq, the CIA reported. According to one CIA representative, Chalabi used National Security Council stationery for the fabricated letter, a charge that Chalabi denied.

In December 1996, Clinton administration officials decided to terminate the CIA’s relationship with the INC and Chalabi. “There was a breakdown in trust and we never wanted to have anything to do with him anymore,” CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

However, in 1998, with the congressional passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, the INC was again one of the exile organizations that qualified for U.S. funding. Starting in March 2000, the State Department agreed to grant an INC foundation almost $33 million for several programs, including more propaganda operations and collection of information about alleged war crimes committed by Hussein’s regime.

By March 2001, with George W. Bush in office and already focusing on Iraq, the INC was given greater leeway to pursue its projects, including an Information Collection Program. The INC’s blurred responsibilities on intelligence gathering and propaganda dissemination raised fresh concerns within the State Department. But Bush’s National Security Council intervened against State’s attempts to cut off funding.

The NSC shifted the INC operation to the control of the Defense Department, where neoconservatives wielded more influence. To little avail, CIA officials warned their counterparts at the Defense Intelligence Agency about suspicions that “the INC was penetrated by Iranian and possibly other intelligence services, and that the INC had its own agenda,” the Senate report said.

“You’ve got a real bucket full of worms with the INC and we hope you’re taking the appropriate steps,” the CIA told the DIA.

Media Hype

But the CIA’s warnings did little to stanch the flow of INC propaganda into America’s politics and media. Besides flooding the U.S. intelligence community with waves of propaganda, the INC funneled a steady stream of “defectors” to U.S. news outlets eager for anti-Hussein scoops.

The “defectors” also made the rounds of Congress where members saw a political advantage in citing the INC’s propaganda as a way to talk tough about the Middle East. In turn, conservative and neoconservative think tanks honed their reputations in Washington by staying at the cutting edge of the negative news about Hussein, with “human rights” groups ready to pile on, too, against the Iraqi dictator.

The INC’s information program served the institutional needs and biases of Official Washington. Saddam Hussein was a despised figure anyway, with no influential constituency that would challenge even the most outlandish accusations against him.

When Iraqi government officials were allowed onto American news programs, it was an opportunity for the interviewers to show their tough side, pounding the Iraqis with hostile questions and smirking at the Iraqi denials about WMDs and ties to Al Qaeda.

The rare journalist who tried to be evenhanded would have his or her professionalism questioned. An intelligence analyst who challenged the consensus view that Iraq possessed WMDs could expect to suffer career repercussions. So, it was a win-win for “investigative journalists,” macho pundits, members of Congress – and George W. Bush. A war fever was sweeping the United States and the INC was doing all it could to spread the infection.

Again and again, the INC’s “defectors” supplied primary or secondary intelligence on two key points, Iraq’s supposed rebuilding of its unconventional weapons and its alleged training of non-Iraqi terrorists. Sometimes, these “defectors” would even enter the cloistered world of U.S. intelligence with entrées provided by former U.S. government officials.

For instance, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey referred at least a couple of these Iraqi sources to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Woolsey, who was affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and other neocon think tanks, had been one of the Reagan administration’s favorite Democrats in the 1980s because he supported a hawkish foreign policy. After Bill Clinton won the White House, Woolsey parlayed his close ties to the neocons into an appointment as CIA director.

In early 1993, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger explained to one well-placed Democratic official that Woolsey was given the CIA job because the Clinton team felt it owed a favor to the neoconservative New Republic, which had lent Clinton some cachet with the insider crowd of Washington.

Amid that more relaxed post-Cold War mood, the Clinton team viewed the CIA directorship as a kind of a patronage plum that could be handed out as a favor to campaign supporters. But new international challenges soon emerged and Woolsey proved to be an ineffective leader of the intelligence community. After two years, he was replaced.

As the 1990s wore on, the spurned Woolsey grew closer to Washington’s fast-growing neocon movement, which was openly hostile to President Clinton for his perceived softness in asserting U.S. military power, especially against Arab regimes in the Middle East.

On Jan. 26, 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century sent a letter to Clinton urging the ouster of Saddam Hussein by force if necessary. Woolsey was one of the 18 signers. By early 2001, he also had grown close to the INC, having been hired as co-counsel to represent eight Iraqis, including INC members, who had been detained on immigration charges.

In other words, Woolsey was well-positioned to serve as a conduit for INC “defectors” trying to get their stories to U.S. officials and to the American public.

The ‘Sources’

DIA officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Woolsey introduced them to the first in a long line of INC “defectors” who then told the DIA about Hussein’s WMD and his supposed relationship with Islamic terrorists. For his part, Woolsey said he didn’t recall making that referral.

The debriefings of “Source One” – as he was called in the Senate Intelligence Committee report – generated more than 250 intelligence reports. Two of the reports described alleged terrorist training sites in Iraq, where Afghan, Pakistani and Palestinian nationals were allegedly taught military skills at the Salman Pak base, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

“Many Iraqis believe that Saddam Hussein had made an agreement with Usama bin Ladin in order to support his terrorist movement against the U.S.,” Source One claimed, according to the Senate report.

After the 9/11 attacks, information from Source One and other INC-connected “defectors” began surfacing in U.S. press accounts, not only in the right-wing news media, but many mainstream publications and news shows.

In an Oct. 12, 2001, column entitled “What About Iraq?” Washington Post chief foreign correspondent Jim Hoagland cited “accumulating evidence of Iraq’s role in sponsoring the development on its soil of weapons and techniques for international terrorism,” including training at Salman Pak. Hoagland’s sources included Iraqi army “defector” Sabah Khalifa Khodada and another unnamed Iraqi ex-intelligence officer in Turkey. Hoagland also criticized the CIA for not taking seriously a possible Iraqi link to 9/11.

Hoagland’s column was followed by a Page One article in The New York Times, which was headlined “Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism.” It relied on Khodada, the second source in Turkey (who was later identified as Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, a former senior officer in Iraq’s intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat), and a lower-ranking member of Mukhabarat.

This story described 40 to 50 Islamic militants getting training at Salman Pak at any one time, including lessons on how to hijack an airplane without weapons. There were also claims about a German scientist working on biological weapons.

In a Columbia Journalism Review retrospective on press coverage of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, writer Douglas McCollam asked Timescorrespondent Chris Hedges about the Times article, which he had written in coordination with a PBS Frontline documentary called “Gunning for Saddam,” with correspondent Lowell Bergman.

Explaining the difficulty of checking out defector accounts when they meshed with the interests of the U.S. government, Hedges said, “We tried to vet the defectors and we didn’t get anything out of Washington that said, ‘these guys are full of shit.’”

For his part, Bergman told CJR’s McCollam, “The people involved appeared credible and we had no way of getting into Iraq ourselves.”

The journalistic competition to break anti-Hussein scoops was building, too. Based in Paris, Hedges said he would get periodic calls from Times editors asking that he check out defector stories originating from Chalabi’s operation.

“I thought he was unreliable and corrupt, but just because someone is a sleazebag doesn’t mean he might not know something or that everything he says is wrong,” Hedges said. Hedges described Chalabi as having an “endless stable” of ready sources who could fill in American reporters on any number of Iraq-related topics.

The Salman Pak story would be one of many products from the INC’s propaganda mill that would prove influential in the run-up to the Iraq War but would be knocked down later by U.S. intelligence agencies.

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s post-mortem, the DIA stated in June 2006 that it found “no credible reports that non-Iraqis were trained to conduct or support transnational terrorist operations at Salman Pak after 1991.”

Explaining the origins for the bogus tales, the DIA concluded that Operation Desert Storm had brought attention to the training base at Salman Pak, so “fabricators and unestablished sources who reported hearsay or third-hand information created a large volume of human intelligence reporting. This type of reporting surged after September 2001.”

Going with the Flow

However, in the prelude to the Iraq War, U.S. intelligence agencies found it hard to resist the INC’s “defectors” when that would have meant bucking the White House and going against Washington’s conventional wisdom. Rather than take those career chances, many intelligence analysts found it easier to go with the flow.

Referring to the INC’s “Source One,” a U.S. intelligence memorandum in July 2002 hailed the information as “highly credible and includes reports on a wide range of subjects including conventional weapons facilities, denial and deception; communications security; suspected terrorist training locations; illicit trade and smuggling; Saddam’s palaces; the Iraqi prison system; and Iraqi petrochemical plants.”

Only analysts in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research were skeptical because they felt Source One was making unfounded assumptions, especially about possible nuclear research sites.

After the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence finally began to recognize the holes in Source One’s stories and spot examples of analysts extrapolating faulty conclusions from his limited first-hand knowledge.

“In early February 2004, in order to resolve … credibility issues with Source One, Intelligence Community elements brought Source One to Iraq,” the Senate Intelligence Committee report said. “When taken to the location Source One had described as the suspect [nuclear] facility, he was unable to identify it.

“According to one intelligence assessment, the ‘subject appeared stunned upon hearing that he was standing on the spot that he reported as the location of the facility, insisted that he had never been to that spot, and wanted to check a map’ …

“Intelligence Community officers confirmed that they were standing on the location he was identifying. … During questioning, Source One acknowledged contact with the INC’s Washington Director [name redacted], but denied that the Washington Director directed Source One to provide any false information. ”

The U.S. intelligence community had mixed reactions to other Iraqi “walk-ins” arranged by the INC. Some were caught in outright deceptions, such as “Source Two” who talked about Iraq supposedly building mobile biological weapons labs.

After catching Source Two in contradictions, the CIA issued a “fabrication notice” in May 2002, deeming him “a fabricator/provocateur” and asserting that he had “been coached by the Iraqi National Congress prior to his meeting with western intelligence services.”

However, the DIA never repudiated the specific reports that had been based on Source Two’s debriefings. So, Source Two continued to be cited in five CIA intelligence assessments and the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002, “as corroborating other source reporting about a mobile biological weapons program,” the Senate Intelligence Committee report said.

Source Two was one of four human sources referred to by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his United Nations speech on Feb. 5, 2003. When asked how a “fabricator” could have been used for such an important speech, a CIA analyst who worked on Powell’s speech said, “we lost the thread of concern … as time progressed I don’t think we remembered.”

A CIA supervisor added, “Clearly we had it at one point, we understood, we had concerns about the source, but over time it started getting used again and there really was a loss of corporate awareness that we had a problem with the source.”

Flooding Defectors

Part of the challenge facing U.S. intelligence agencies was the sheer volume of “defectors” shepherded into debriefing rooms by the INC and the appeal of their information to U.S. policymakers.

“Source Five,” for instance, claimed that Osama bin Laden had traveled to Baghdad for direct meetings with Saddam Hussein. “Source Six” claimed that the Iraqi population was “excited” about the prospects of a U.S. invasion to topple Hussein. Plus, the source said Iraqis recognized the need for post-invasion U.S. control.

By early February 2003, as the final invasion plans were underway, U.S. intelligence agencies had progressed up to “Source Eighteen,” who came to epitomize what some analysts still suspected – that the INC was coaching the sources.

As the CIA tried to set up a debriefing of Source Eighteen, another Iraqi exile passed on word to the agency that an INC representative had told Source Eighteen to “deliver the act of a lifetime.” CIA analysts weren’t sure what to make of that piece of news – since Iraqi exiles frequently badmouthed each other – but the value of the warning soon became clear.

U.S. intelligence officers debriefed Source Eighteen the next day and discovered that “Source Eighteen was supposed to have a nuclear engineering background, but was unable to discuss advanced mathematics or physics and described types of ‘nuclear’ reactors that do not exist,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

“Source Eighteen used the bathroom frequently, particularly when he appeared to be flustered by a line of questioning, suddenly remembering a new piece of information upon his return. During one such incident, Source Eighteen appeared to be reviewing notes,” the report said.

Not surprisingly, the CIA and DIA case officers concluded that Source Eighteen was a fabricator. But the sludge of INC-connected misinformation and disinformation continued to ooze through the U.S. intelligence community and to foul the American intelligence product – in part because there was little pressure from above demanding strict quality controls.

Curve Ball

Other Iraqi exile sources – not directly connected to the INC – also supplied dubious information, including a source for a foreign intelligence agency who earned the code name “Curve Ball.” He contributed important details about Iraq’s alleged mobile facilities for producing agents for biological warfare.

Tyler Drumheller, former chief of the CIA’s European Division, said his office had issued repeated warnings about Curve Ball’s accounts. “Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” Drumheller said. [Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2005]

Despite those objections and the lack of direct U.S. contact with Curve Ball, he earned a rating as “credible” or “very credible,” and his information became a core element of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Drawings of Curve Ball’s imaginary bio-weapons labs were a central feature of Secretary of State Powell’s presentation to the U.N.

Even after the invasion, U.S. officials continued to promote these claims, portraying the discovery of a couple of trailers used for inflating artillery balloons as “the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.” [CIA-DIA report, “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants,” May 16, 2003]

Finally, on May 26, 2004, a CIA assessment of Curve Ball said “investigations since the war in Iraq and debriefings of the key source indicate he lied about his access to a mobile BW production product.”

The U.S. intelligence community also learned that Curve Ball “had a close relative who had worked for the INC since 1992,” but the CIA could never resolve the question of whether the INC was involved in coaching Curve Ball. One CIA analyst said she doubted a direct INC role because the INC pattern was to “shop their good sources around town, but they weren’t known for sneaking people out of countries into some asylum system.”

Delayed Report

In September 2006, four years after the Bush administration seriously began fanning the flames for war against Iraq, a majority of Senate Intelligence Committee members overrode the objections of the panel’s senior Republicans and issued a report on the INC’s contribution to the U.S. intelligence failures.

The report concluded that the INC fed false information to the intelligence community to convince Washington that Iraq was flouting prohibitions on WMD production. The panel also found that the falsehoods had been “widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war” and did influence some American perceptions of the WMD threat in Iraq.

But INC disinformation was not solely to blame for the bogus intelligence that permeated the pre-war debate. In Washington, there had been a breakdown of the normal checks and balances that American democracy has traditionally relied on for challenging and eliminating the corrosive effects of false data.

By 2002, that self-correcting mechanism – a skeptical press, congressional oversight, and tough-minded analysts – had collapsed. With very few exceptions, prominent journalists refused to put their careers at risk; intelligence professionals played along with the powers that be; Democratic leaders succumbed to the political pressure to toe the President’s line; and Republicans marched in lockstep with Bush on his way to war.

Because of this systematic failure, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded four years later that nearly every key assessment of the U.S. intelligence community as expressed in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s WMD was wrong:

“Postwar findings do not support the [NIE] judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq’s acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was intended for an Iraqi nuclear program; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq was ‘vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake’ from Africa; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that ‘Iraq has biological weapons’ and that ‘all key aspects of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons program are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf war’; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological warfare agents; … do not support the [NIE] assessments that Iraq ‘has chemical weapons’ or ‘is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons production’; … do not support the [NIE] assessments that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ‘probably intended to deliver biological agents’ or that an effort to procure U.S. mapping software ‘strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.’”

Today, you can see a similar process as the Obama administration relies onstrategic communications – a mix of psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. – to advance its strategic goals of “regime change” in Syria, maintenance of an anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, and escalation of hostilities with Russia.

When pivotal events occur – like the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus, the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper shootings in Kiev, or the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine – the propaganda machine clicks back into gear and the incidents are used to smear U.S. “adversaries” and strengthen U.S. “friends.”

Thus, truth has become the routine casualty of “info-war.” The American people are serially deceived in the name of “national security” and manipulated toward more conflict and military spending. Over the years, this process surely put a crooked smile on the face of Ahmed Chalabi, who proved himself one of its masters.

Posted in USA, IraqComments Off on America’s Chalabi Legacy of Lies

Knife Attack on Rabbi by settlers: sign of unchecked Jewish extremist violence

NOVANEWS

jew settler

 THE TIME OF ISRAEL

Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s right middle finger is still bandaged from a recent confrontation in the West Bank, when a suspected Jewish extremist lurched at him with a knife, punching and kicking him.

Almost two weeks after the October 23 attack, when the liberal rabbi was helping Palestinians harvest their olive trees, no arrests have been made — part of what critics say is a culture of impunity for extremist settlers.

Ascherman heads a group called Rabbis for Human Rights, which for more than a decade has been accompanying Palestinian farmers to their olive groves during the harvest season, when attacks by extremist settlers typically spike. While the presence of Israelis sometimes prevents violence, Ascherman said the attack on him shows how extremists — seemingly free from the threat of punishment — are often undeterred.

“We’ve created… a Frankenstein’s monster that’s turned on its creator,” said Ascherman as he stood this week among a group of Israeli volunteers and Palestinian farmers raking olives from trees.

The extremist settlers “believe that they are the lords of the land,” he added.

The attack against Ascherman comes as a wave of violence is roiling the region, with near-daily, seemingly spontaneous assaults by Palestinians who have killed 11 Israelis since mid-September. Seventy Palestinians have also been killed — 44 of them suspected attackers and the remainder killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

The violence erupted in mid-September over tensions at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and quickly spread elsewhere into Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel says a campaign of lies and incitement by the Palestinian leadership is to blame for the violence. The Palestinians say it’s the result of simmering frustrations stemming from nearly 50 years of Israel’s occupation of lands they want for their future state.

Much of those frustrations are fanned by violent encounters with settlers, which reached a nadir with a deadly arson attack on the home of a Palestinian family in July.

The assailants, believed by Israeli officials to be Jewish extremists, lobbed a firebomb into the Dawabsha home in the West Bank village of Duma, where the family of four was asleep. Ali Dawabsheh, a toddler, was burned to death, while his mother and father later died of their wounds. His 4-year-old brother Ahmad remains hospitalized in an Israeli hospital over three months later, still recovering from severe burns.

Israeli leaders across the political spectrum fiercely condemned the violence and vowed to apprehend the assailants. Subsequently, four Israeli extremists were jailed for six months without charge under a special anti-terror rule known as “administrative detention” which Israel typically uses against Palestinians.

But the four are not necessarily being held in connection with the Duma attack, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said that there isn’t “sufficient evidence” to apprehend any suspects over that particular attack.

When Palestinians are asked about the roots of the current round of violence, they quickly mention the Duma case, noting that Israel swiftly — often within hours — apprehends suspected Palestinian attackers.

“It’s clear that the Israeli government doesn’t want to arrest the perpetrators or punish them or their families as it does with Palestinians,” said Abdelhaleem Dawabsha, the mayor of Duma and a cousin of the Palestinian family. “People here are concerned that the attack might happen again.”

Israel says it confronts settler violence with as much resolve as it does attacks by Palestinians. Police said that over the last two months, they have served restraining orders to 33 extremist Jews, banning them from the West Bank and putting some of them under house arrest.

But critics say a lackadaisical approach by security forces and a lenient justice system allows Israeli extremists to run amok even as Palestinian offenders are arrested and jailed, often without trial.

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din says Israeli police have an 85 percent failure rate in investigating ideologically motivated crimes by Israelis against Palestinians.

A recent study of the 1,026 crime reports filed over the last decade, 940 were closed without indictments, mostly because police were unable to find a culprit. Only 75 indictments have been filed, according to the group. Most of the violence has been arson or damage to crops or trees, or incidents such as shootings, beatings, stone-throwing or assault with clubs or knives.

“The numbers that we see are grim and they don’t get any better,” said Neta Patrick, the head of Yesh Din. “Many (Palestinians)… don’t want to go to police and file a complaint because they don’t really believe in its ability to investigate and secure justice for them.”

Patrick said the impunity is only fueling more violence and allowing attacks to evolve, aimed not only against Palestinians but also against dovish Israelis who are helping Palestinians, like Ascherman.

Ascherman said he was attacked while accompanying Palestinians on an olive harvest that was coordinated and secured by police. A 2006 court decision requires Israel to protect Palestinians harvesting their land.

Shortly after the harvest had wrapped up and the security forces had left, Ascherman was trying to approach and film Israelis who were apparently setting fire to a nearby grove when the masked suspect came rushing toward him. Video captured by Rabbis for Human Rights shows Ascherman scuffling for about a minute with the knife-wielding man, who at one point has Ascherman in a headlock. The rabbi broke a finger and was bruised in the attack.

Police said the incident is being investigated, but Ascherman questioned how they appear to have no leads even with the video. He warned that years of unchecked extremist violence is creeping up against Jews as well.

“The hand which strikes the non-Jew will eventually strike the Jew as well,” Ascherman said.

“What goes around comes around and I think what happened to me was an inevitable result of what happens to Palestinians on an almost daily basis,” he said.

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Nazi regime Harvests Organs From Slain Palestinians

NOVANEWS
Israel Rejects Claim It Harvests Organs From Slain Palestinians as ‘Anti-Semitic’ Lie

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem;Sr

body-for-sale

THE FORWARD

The Palestinian Authority’s representative to the United Nations accused Israel of harvesting the organs of Palestinians killed while attacking Israelis.

Israel’s U.N. envoy responded by calling the PA’s accusation a “blood libel.”

“A medical examination conducted on bodies of Palestinians returned after they were killed by the occupying power found that they were missing organs,” Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN, said in an official complaint to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The letter said that the bodies were returned missing corneas and other organs.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, in a response to Ban, wrote in a letter that “the Palestinian representative’s anti-Semitic face has been revealed.”

In 2009, the Swedish daily Aftonbladet sparked an angry reaction from Israeli officials and Jewish leaders with the publication of an unverified account that Israeli troops harvested organs from Palestinians who died in custody. Israel squarely denied the accusation.

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USAComments Off on Nazi regime Harvests Organs From Slain Palestinians

Why did Amnesty say one thing in English and another in Hebrew?

NOVANEWS
Ali Abunimah
Palestinians mourn over the bodies of three Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron on 31 October, after their bodies were released by Israeli authorities. Amnesty International says several youths in the city were extrajudicially executed by Israel.

 Shadi HatemAPA images

A week ago, Amnesty International published a report on Israel’s summary executions of Palestinians.

As The Electronic Intifada reported, the human rights group said it had “documented in depth at least four incidents in which Palestinians were deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces when they posed no imminent threat to life, in what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”

It examined the killings of teenagers Saad al-AtrashDania IrsheidFadi Alloun and Hadil Hashlamoun.

“In some cases,” Amnesty said, “the person shot was left bleeding to death on the ground and was not given prompt medical assistance, in violation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.”

Amnesty published an Arabic-language release of its report that is faithful to the English version.

Yet the no-holds-barred report was considerably softened for the organizations’s much shorter Hebrew press release (translation below).

“Israeli palate”

At the Hebrew-language news website Local Call, journalist Noam Rotem wrote that the Hebrew version looked like it had been changed “in order to adapt it to the Israeli palate.”

He observed that the Hebrew release sent to journalists by Amnesty’s Israel office “is entirely different from the original press release issued by the organization in English.”

The English version is clear right from the headline about who is responsible for violence: “Israeli forces in occupied Palestinian territories must end pattern of unlawful killings.”

The Hebrew headline is more circumspect: “Lethal force should not be used to eradicate a violent incident.” (The Hebrew version does include the headline that appeared in the English version, but only as a sub-heading.)

The differences go deeper. “The Hebrew version makes significant efforts to stress Palestinian violence,” Rotem observed.

It does speak about “unlawful killings” by Israelis but, unlike the English/Arabic version, omits the term “extrajudicial executions.”

The English/Arabic version also includes several quotes from Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program.

“There is mounting evidence that, as tensions have risen dramatically, in some cases Israeli forces appear to have ripped up the rulebook and resorted to extreme and unlawful measures,” Luther states. “They seem increasingly prone to using lethal force against anyone they perceive as posing a threat, without ensuring that the threat is real.”

Luther also notes that “Israel’s investigation systems have long served to perpetuate impunity for unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli military and police forces,” and he warns of the potential for international justice to take its course.

The Hebrew language version omits these key quotes and includes only one where Luther emphasizes “a wave of recent stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and military or police forces in Israel and the occupied West Bank.”

Finally, most of the specific cases in the English/Arabic version are absent from the Hebrew release.

For the one case that is discussed – the killing of Yousef al-Atrash on 26 October – the Hebrew version leaves out key details. It acknowledges that al-Atrash was shot as he tried to pull out his ID to show Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Hebron, and that an eyewitness “said that the young man did not constitute a life-endangering threat when shot.”

But it omits testimony that after al-Atrash was shot six or seven times, soldiers left him bleeding on the ground without medical care for 40 minutes, and then when an ambulance arrived, delayed it for a further 20 minutes.

The Hebrew version also does not mention that the eyewitness claimed to see soldiers plant a knife in the dying youth’s hand.

Amnesty’s response

“It is normal practice for national sections of Amnesty International to condense press releases issued by the organization’s International Secretariat during translation,” Amnesty’s Philip Luther explained in an email responding to an inquiry from The Electronic Intifada.

He said that the national sections typically only issue one-page press releases “while making the full English-language original version available as well.”

“The intention is always to produce a faithful summary of the original.”

But Luther acknowledged that “in this case, the condensed Hebrew-language summary was not of the quality we would normally expect and we can see how a comparison of the Hebrew-language and English-language versions of the press release in question would provoke questions about discrepancies between the content of the two texts.”

Luther said that unspecified “Action is being taken now to ensure the quality of such translations is always of the right quality in the future.”

He added that “there was no intention to alter the strong messages contained in the English-language original, which was, as always, shared with Israeli media.”

Given how complicit Israeli media are in inciting and covering up violence against Palestinians, Amnesty should be making extra efforts to ensure that its findings are not whitewashed, no matter what the reason.

Dena Shunra provided Hebrew translation.

Translation of Hebrew press release

[Emphasis in original]

Amnesty International 28 October 2015 Press Release

Amnesty: lethal force should not be used to eradicate a violent incident

Israeli forces must put an end to the unlawful killing of Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories

Israeli forces have carried out unlawful killings of Palestinians in a series of events, using lethal force intentionally with no justification, it transpires from the findings of a study performed by Amnesty International.

The information is based on the findings of research that is still ongoing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Amnesty International has documented in depth at least four incidents where the Israeli forces intentionally killed Palestinians, despite the fact that there was no life-threatening danger to those forces. Since 1 October, Israeli forces have killed more than 30 Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and in Israel, after individual Palestinians stabbed Israeli citizens or after Israel suspected there was an intention to perform a stabbing.

“There is recently a pattern of using lethal force by Israeli forces following the wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians, military forces and police forces in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel,” said Philp Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa programs at Amnesty International.

Among documented cases, Israeli forces shot 19-year old Saad Muhammad Yusif al-Atrash in the Old City of Hebron, when he tried to draw out his ID document, as he was asked to do in the Israeli army checkpoint on 26 October. The Israel Police labeled the case as an “attempted stabbing,” but eyewitnesses from a balcony near the site of the incident said that the young man did not constitute a life-endangering threat when he was shot[.]

“Israeli security forces and Israeli civilians have contended with real attacks and threats to their lives in recent weeks,” stated Luther. “However the armed soldiers and the police personnel wear body armor against possible knife attacks – lead to the use of lethal force[.]” [sic]

Amnesty International calls upon the Israeli authorities to conduct independent, unbiased investigations into all the events specified in the report. Intentional killing of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories are serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Why did Amnesty say one thing in English and another in Hebrew?

Fifty years on the frontline: the revolutionary contributions of Ho Chi Minh

NOVANEWS

www.lalkar.org

Nov-Dec 2015

The Vietnam War: Reasons for Failure – Why the U.S. Lost

chi

 

30 April this year marked the 40th anniversary of the historic victory of the Vietnamese people against US imperialism, whereas the 19 th of May marked the 125thanniversary of the birth of Ho Chi Minh, the great leader of the Vietnamese people. To mark these two events, Carlos Martinez wrote two articles, the first of which, i.e., his article on the liberation of Saigon, resulting in the total defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam and the consequent reunification of the country, appeared in the July issue of LALKAR.. The other article, which contains extremely useful and informative material on the long, multi-faceted, revolutionary life of that great internationalist, Ho Chi Minh, is now reproduced below.

People of Ho Chi Minh’s calibre don’t come around often. One of the great revolutionaries of the twentieth century, he excelled as a leader, a teacher, a journalist, a strategist, an internationalist, a unifier, a guerrilla fighter, a negotiator, a creative thinker, a poet. He endured decades of exile and then decades of war. He suffered prison and torture in China in the early 1940s (by which time he was already in his fifties). As a guerrilla leader and then as the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under attack from French colonialism, he lived with his comrades in the most basic possible conditions in the caves of Cao Bang, often having to forage for food. And yet, his dedication to the causes of Vietnamese independence, Vietnamese unification, and global socialism never faltered. With relentless energy, profound intelligence and undying passion, he led his people through every up and down over the course of half a century.

His most notable achievements include:

Providing the major inspiration and strategic vision for the Vietnamese Revolution from the early 1920s up until his death in 1969.

Connecting the Vietnamese indepen-dence struggle with the global socialist and anti-imperialist movement, and thereby providing it with a source of decisive support.

Uniting different political trends and backgrounds into a single, extremely effective fighting organisation.

Purposefully building and training a close-knit team of serious revolutionaries capable of providing leadership to the Vietnamese masses.

Promoting and building maximum national unity against imperialism, bringing the peasantry, working class, intellectuals and patriotic capitalist elements together in order to struggle against French, Japanese and US colonialism.

Along with the other top leaders of the Vietnamese resistance, consistently making a correct analysis of the prevailing balance of forces, enabling historic victories such as the capture of power in August 1945, the defeat of the French occupation in 1954, the building of socialism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), and the Tet Offensive of 1968, which served as the major turning point in the war with the US.

Leading the work of inspiring, organising and educating the masses of the Vietnamese people for their long struggle against imperialism and for socialism.

With very good reason, ‘Uncle Ho’ continues to be revered, loved and studied in Vietnam, and his legacy remains a source of profound inspiration for anti-imperialists throughout the world. However, given how great a role he played, surprisingly few people know anything about him other than that he was the leader of the Vietnamese Revolution and that he once said “nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.” Therefore, in writing this article (which is published on the 125th anniversary of Ho’s birth), I try to give some insight into his legacy, focusing in particular on his first few decades of activity and on those events that served to shape his ideas and strategy – and in turn the course of the Vietnamese revolution.

The article is followed by a selection of quotes that I hope the reader will find useful.

For any reader looking for more detail, the best place to start is unquestionably Ho Chi Minh’s selected works, which tell the story of the Vietnamese Revolution better than any other book. The well-known biographies by western authors William Duiker and Jean Lacouture are both very useful, although they’re not written from a communist or anti-imperialist perspective. Duiker in particular has done a huge amount of painstaking work to dig out the details of Ho’s life – a job made very difficult by the fact that Ho operated for much of his life in conditions of strict secrecy, in many different countries, using dozens of pseudonyms. The biographies by Ho Chi Minh’s comrades-in-arms Pham Van Dong and Truong Chinh will strike most western readers as being overzealous in their praise, but they nonetheless contain useful insights and moving recollections, as does the collection of articles entitled ‘Reminiscences of Ho Chi Minh’.

Evolution of a revolutionary

Nguyen Sinh Cung, as he was then called, was born on 19 May 1890 in the tough mountain terrain of Nghe An. His father was a scholar, well-respected but penniless as a result of his opposition to French colonial rule. Ho Chi Minh was raised in a spirit of patriotism and with a deep respect for the Vietnamese heroes of past centuries who had waged long and bitter struggles against foreign domination. As a student in Hue in the first decade of the twentieth century, he became involved in the protest movement against the brutality of the French occupiers. In order to avoid arrest for his activism, he went south to Saigon – at that time the capital of the French colony of Cochin China – from where he decided to go abroad. Working on ships, he spent two years at sea. William J Duiker, in his exhaustive biography Ho Chi Minh – a life, (Hachette UK, 2012), writes:

Exposure to the world outside Vietnam had a major impact on his thinking and attitude toward life. Over a decade later, when he began to write articles for French publications, his descriptions of the harsh realities of life in the colonised port cities of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were often shocking, dealing with the abject misery in which many people lived and the brutality with which they were treated by their European oppressors. By the beginning of the twentieth century, much of the world had been placed under colonial rule, and the port cities of Africa and Asia teemed with dockworkers, rickshaw pullers, and manual labourers, all doing the bidding of the white man. It may have been during this period of travel abroad that the foundations of his later revolutionary career were first laid.

After working for some months in New York and Boston (including, in the latter city, at the same hotel at which Malcolm X worked some thirty years later!), Ho Chi Minh came to London, where he worked in various kitchen jobs and came into contact with Marxist ideas for the first time. Whilst in London, he found out about the Irish independence struggle and became an agitator for that cause. Writing in 1920 about the death on hunger strike of the Irish Republican leader Terence MacSwiney (in Brixton Prison), he wrote: “A nation that has such citizens will never surrender” (see Peter Berresford Ellis, A history of the Irish working class, Pluto Press, 1996). Ireland’s epic anti-colonial struggle became an inspiration, and helped to refine Ho Chi Minh’s strategic thought in relation to the situation in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh arrived in France around the time of the end of the First World War and quickly established contact with the Vietnamese community there, as well as with French socialists and communists, and members of numerous exiled and immigrant communities from other colonies, including Korea, China, Algeria, Madagascar and the French colonies of West Africa. Adopting the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the patriot), he started to write passionately and copiously. As his reports and declarations seeped back into Indochina (under which name Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were collectively administered by France), the name Nguyen Ai Quoc increasingly inspired curiosity, then support, then loyalty from the people of Vietnam, suffering as they were under the heel of France’s ‘civilising mission’ – a civilising mission that denied people the right to education, to land, to decent working conditions, to even the most basic forms of democracy; a ‘civilising mission’ that promoted opium addiction as a means of pacifying the masses and enriching the colonisers.

Global struggle against imperialism and for socialism

In France, Ho Chi Minh was introduced by French communists to the key elements of revolutionary ideology. In a small library in Paris, he devoured Marx’s Capital and other classic texts. However, he soon came to see some of the problems and contradictions afflicting the French communist and socialist movement – problems that, a century later, continue to afflict the left in Western Europe and North America. Focused exclusively on the class struggle in France, they knew little of the anti-colonial struggle and didn’t have a consistent policy regarding liberation of the colonies.

This was around the time of the founding of the Communist International (variously known as the Third International and the Comintern), made necessary by the descent of its predecessor (the Second International) into what Lenin referred to as social chauvinism: a position of collaboration with, and support for, the various capitalist governments in pursuit of the First World War. This war was, after all, an imperialist war; a war based on competition between different imperialist powers for control of the colonies. The revolutionary position put forward by the Bolsheviks and a handful of others was: refuse to cooperate with the war, take advantage of the crisis to defeat capitalism in Europe, and help to bring about freedom for the colonies. In a short but profound and moving article called ‘ The path which led me to Leninism‘, Ho Chi Minh discusses his trajectory as a revolutionary and how he came to be totally aligned with the Third International.

“What I wanted most to know was: which International sides with the peoples of colonial countries? I raised this question – the most important in my opinion – in a meeting. Some comrades answered: It is the Third, not the Second International. And a comrade gave me Lenin’s ‘Thesis on the national and colonial questions’ published by L’Humanité to read. There were political terms difficult to understand in this thesis. But by dint of reading it again and again, finally I could grasp the main part of it. What emotion, enthusiasm, clear-sightedness and confidence it instilled into me! I was overjoyed to tears. Though sitting alone in my room, I shouted out aloud as if addressing large crowds: ‘Dear martyrs, compatriots! This is what we need, this is the path to our liberation!’”

“After that, I had entire confidence in Lenin, in the Third International. Formerly, during the meetings of the Party branch, I only listened to the discussion; I had a vague belief that all were logical, and could not differentiate as to who were right and who were wrong. But from then on, I also plunged into the debates and discussed with fervour. Though I was still lacking French words to express all my thoughts, I smashed the allegations attacking Lenin and the Third International with no less vigour. My only argument was: ‘If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you waging?’”

On the basis of his ground-breaking study of imperialism, and seeing how imperialist profits had allowed the European capitalists to ‘buy social peace’ and bribe much of the working class leadership, Lenin came to understand that the anti-colonial struggle was a crucial part of the global struggle for socialism. Armed with this understanding, the Soviet Union became a massive ‘liberated territory’ for the anti-colonial struggles, and the Third International updated Marx’s slogan “Workers of the world, unite” to read: “Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!”

Thus, in the age of imperialism, the liberatory ideas expressed in the Communist Manifesto had become relevant not just to the working class of Europe but also to the oppressed and downtrodden people of the entire world. Ho Chi Minh was the first Vietnamese, and one of the first globally, to fully understand the significance of this and to apply it to his own nation’s liberation struggle. For the remaining five decades of his life, he would stay true to the principle of the unity of the global struggle against imperialism and for socialism. With his uncanny ability to sum up political ideas in a simple way, he said:

” Capitalism is a leech with one sucker on the working class in the imperialist countries and the other on the oppressed peoples of the colonies. To kill that leech, its two suckers must both be cut off. If only one sucker is removed, the other will continue bleeding the workers white and the leech will still be alive and grow a new sucker” (quoted in Tap Chi Cong San, Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and the Vietnamese revolutionary path, The National Publishing House, Hanoi,1997, p.298).

Internationalist

In France, Ho Chi Minh set up a journal called Le Paria (The Pariah), which from 1922 to 1926 was a leading voice for the anti-imperialist struggle. Copies were smuggled into Indochina, providing a first window into the world of global revolution for people whose access to information was severely limited by French censorship. One biographer of Ho Chi Minh, the French journalist Jean Lacouture, comments of Ho’s writing at the time that “the remarkable thing … is the global conception of the problem of the oppressed, the constant determination not to isolate what was only one of many colonial questions.”

Late in 1923, having earned a reputation for himself as a capable and fiery propagandist against colonialism, the young Nguyen Ai Quoc [Ho Chi Minh] had the chance to travel to the Soviet Union. Given work at the Far Eastern Bureau of the Comintern, he quickly became an important and popular figure in Moscow, providing valuable information about the situation of the Indochinese people and their sufferings under French colonialism. In Moscow he became friends with several key figures of the international movement, including Georgi Dimitrov (later the General Secretary of the Comintern and first leader of post-war Bulgaria) and Zhou Enlai (a top leader of the Chinese Revolution and first Premier of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976).

Towards the end of 1923, Ho enrolled at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, at which there were then over a thousand students from 62 different countries. “As Nguyen Ai Quoc described it in his article, the school was an idyllic place to study. There were two libraries containing over forty-seven thousand books, and each major nationality represented at the school possessed its own section with books and periodicals in its own national language. The students were ‘serious and full of enthusiasm’ and ‘passionately longed to acquire knowledge and to study.’ The staff and the instructors treated the foreign students ‘like brothers’ and even invited them to ‘participate in the political life of the country’” (Duiker). The experiences studying, and later teaching, at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East undoubtedly helped to cement the ideas of the budding revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoc.

In Moscow, Ho was disappointed to find that not all personalities and parties of the Comintern – including the party of which he was a founder member, the French Communist Party – were living up to Lenin’s demand to highlight and support the anti-colonial struggle. Taking the floor at the Fifth Congress of the Comintern in June 1924, he reiterated the importance of workers in the ‘metropolis’ joining hands with oppressed peoples: “You all know that today the poison and life energy of the capitalist snake is concentrated more in the colonies than in the mother countries. The colonies supply the raw materials for industry. The colonies supply soldiers for the armies. In the future, the colonies will be bastions of the counterrevolution. Yet in your discussions of the revolution you neglect to talk about the colonies… Why do you neglect the colonies, while capitalism uses them to support itself, defend itself, and fight you?” (cited in Duiker). Specifically pointing to the hypocrisy of the west European parties, he added“As for our Communist Parties in Great Britain, Holland, Belgium and other countries – what have they done to cope with the colonial invasions perpetrated by the bourgeois class of their countries? What have they done from the day they accepted Lenin’s political programme to educate the working class of their countries in the spirit of just internationalism, and that of close contact with the working masses in the colonies? What our parties have done in this domain is almost worthless. As for me, I was born in a French colony, and am a member of the French Communist Party, and I am very sorry to say that our Communist Party has done hardly anything for the colonies.”

Throughout his life, Ho would struggle consistently against this weakness he saw in the western left: its adherence to a narrow, pre-Lenin, eurocentric version of Marxism that sees the world purely in terms of the battle between workers and capitalists in the west, ignoring the key questions of imperialism and national oppression. It’s worth pointing out that, sadly, this weakness is not some sort of historical relic, confined to the ‘bad old days’. Indeed it is still decidedly recognisable today, in an era when huge numbers of supposed socialists and communists in the west refuse to side with peoples under attack from the imperialist powers (Syria, Libya and Ukraine come to mind).

At the Comintern Congress, Ho Chi Minh also took the opportunity to highlight the revolutionary role that could and would be played by the peasantry in the colonies:“Famine is on the increase and so is the people’s hatred. The native peasants are ripe for insurrection. In many colonies, they have risen many times but their uprisings have all been drowned in blood. If at present the peasants still have a passive attitude, the reason is that they still lack organisation and leaders. The Communist International must help them to revolution and liberation.”

Towards the end of 1924, Ho left Moscow to work in China on behalf of the Comintern, on a mission to support the Chinese Communist Party. Based in Canton, he was able to link up with a number of young Vietnamese revolutionaries, many of whom continued to be part of the nucleus of Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle for decades to come. In 1925, a small group called the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League was formed by Ho and a few of his comrades; this was the first Vietnamese communist organisation. Over the course of two years in Canton, Ho Chi Minh acted as teacher and organiser, making contact with as many Vietnamese revolutionaries as he could, and running a school for training them in ideology and organisational skills. “He taught his charges how to talk and behave in a morally upright manner (so as to do credit to the revolutionary cause), how to speak in public, how to address gatherings of workers, peasants, children, and women, how to emphasise the national cause as well as the need for a social revolution, how to behave without condescension to the poor and illiterate. He anxiously checked on their living and eating conditions to make sure that they were healthy and well cared for; when they were gloomy and despondent, he cheered them up. One ex-student recalled his incurable optimism. When students appeared discouraged at the petty corruption of Vietnamese mandarins and the general ignorance and lethargy of the village population, he replied, ‘It’s just these obstacles and social depravity that makes the revolution necessary. A revolutionary must above all be optimistic and believe in the final victory’” (Duiker).

Ho and his comrades in the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League set up a journal, Thanh Nien, which was issued weekly and sent into Vietnam by sea. Between 1925 and 1930, over 200 issues were published, allowing Ho Chi Minh to systematically agitate, educate and organise significant numbers of people inside Vietnam itself. By the late 1920s, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League had around two thousand members inside Indochina, and more in China, France and elsewhere. In his period of editing Thanh Nien, Ho perfected his ability to communicate a version of revolutionary Marxism that was understandable and acceptable to ordinary Vietnamese peasants and workers. His style is simple but powerful, as can be seen from the following example:

The workers and peasants are the leading force of the revolution. This is because, first, the workers and farmers are more heavily oppressed; secondly, the workers and peasants are united and therefore possess the greatest strength; and thirdly, they are already poor; if defeated, they would only lose their miserable life; if they win, they would have the whole world. That is why the workers and farmers are the roots of the revolution, while the students, small merchants, and landowners, though oppressed, do not suffer as much as the workers and farmers, and that is why these three classes are only the revolutionary friends of the workers and farmers .” (Ho Chi Minh – The Road to Revolution (1926))

The work in Canton was very fruitful, but it was brought to an abrupt end when Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek initiated his vicious purge in April 1927. Thousands of communists were rounded up and murdered in Shanghai and Canton, thus finishing off the Communist-Kuomintang alliance (until 1936, when Chiang was forced to cooperate again with the Communist Party in the war of resistance against Japan). Ho escaped Canton just hours before his office was raided, and made his way to Hong Kong. From there, he travelled to Paris, Brussels and Berlin for various conferences and consultations, before heading back to Asia. He arrived in Siam (now Thailand) in mid-1928, and began organising among the large Vietnamese exile community there.

Around a year later, he heard that the revolutionary movement in Vietnam was descending dangerously into sectarianism and internal conflict. He travelled immediately to Hong Kong, where he called together the competing factions, arbitrated the various disagreements, and called for the existing revolutionary organisations to be disbanded and replaced with a single new party: the Indochinese Communist Party. The inaugural meeting of the ICP took place on 3 February 1930, and agreed a ten-point programme calling for the complete overthrow of French imperialism, an end to Vietnamese feudalism, the confiscation of land from the colonisers and big landowners and its distribution to poor peasants, an eight-hour working day, universal education, and equality between men and women – a simple, profound revolutionary programme giving voice to the deepest aspirations of ordinary Vietnamese people. This is the party, later renamed as the Communist Party of Vietnam, that went on to lead the Vietnamese masses in the overthrow of imperialism and the pursuit of socialism, a task it remains engaged in to this day.

In the following two months, acting under the instructions of the Comintern, Ho found time to preside over the establishment of the Siamese Communist Party and attend a meeting establishing the Malayan Communist Party. Meanwhile, the influence of the ICP was rapidly expanding, along with the militancy and self-confidence of the Vietnamese workers and peasants. Strikes were breaking out in all parts of the country, and in 1931 a series of insurrections led to the creation of the Nghe Tinh soviet in two provinces of central Vietnam, Nghe An and Ha Tinh (more details of this period can be found in the article Fight to Win: How the Vietnamese people rose up and defeated imperialism ).As Ho later wrote“although the movement was drowned by the imperialists in a sea of blood, it testified to the heroism and revolutionary power of the Vietnamese working masses. In spite of its failure, it forged the forces which were to ensure the triumph of the August Revolution.”

Ho continued in his role as the ICP’s chief strategist until he was arrested and imprisoned in Kowloon by the British colonial authorities – reporting to Ramsey MacDonald’s Labour government.

After a year and a half in prison, having successfully been defended by the British lawyer Denis Pritt (who later earned the honour of being expelled from the Labour Party on account of his pro-Soviet views), Ho was able to avoid extradition to France and to make his way instead back to the Soviet Union. In Moscow he was put in charge of the Vietnamese section of the Far Eastern Bureau of the Comintern, and he also enrolled in a course at the Lenin University. Nguyen Khanh Toan, who would later serve in various high-level governmental positions in Vietnam from 1945 until the 1980s, was one of the 150-ish Vietnamese students under Ho Chi Minh’s supervision at the time, and he gives a moving description of Ho’s interaction with the students:

” While studying at the Lenin University he kept in very close touch with the Vietnamese group. In the evenings he often came to talk to them about his experiences in revolutionary action, putting heavy emphasis on revolutionary morals, especially the sense of solidarity. Among the younger students there sometimes arose squabbles of mostly a personal character, and he had to arbitrate them. What he sought to combat among them was arrogance, egoism, indiscipline; he wanted them to be united and put the interest of the revolution above everything else. He often said to them: ‘If even this little group of ours cannot live in harmony and solidarity, how could we hope, once back in the country, to unite the people and rally the masses against the colonialists in order to save the nation?” (Reminiscences of Ho Chi Minh)

Leading Vietnam to victory

After a few relatively peaceful years studying and organising in the Soviet Union, Ho returned in 1938 to China, where he was appointed as a political commissar, working to educate troops at the Whampao Academy. In China, Ho was reunited with his closest allies, including Vo Nguyen Giap, Pham Van Dong and Truong Chinh. In 1940 they decided that the time was ripe to infiltrate themselves back into Vietnam with a view to organising a nationwide insurrection. In early February 1941, they made the short but difficult journey across the border from China into the northernmost part of Vietnam, establishing themselves in a cave near the village of Pac Bo, a small village in Cao Bang province, just the other side of the Chinese border. Duiker writes:

” With the aid of a local sympathizer, the group established their accommodations in a cave known to the locals as Coc Bo (the Source) and situated behind a rock in the side of one of the local cliffs. About 140 feet below the mouth of the cave was a stream that Nguyen Ai Quoc named for his hero Lenin. Overlooking the site was a massive outgrowth that he dubbed Karl Marx Peak. From the cave, a secret path wound straight to the Chinese border, less than half a mile away. In later years, Nguyen Ai Quoc and his colleagues would remember their days at Pac Bo as among the most memorable in their lives. Yet conditions were harsh. They slept on a mat of branches, leaving them with bruised backs in the morning. The cave itself was cold and damp, so the occupants kept a small fire going all night. As was his habit, Nguyen Ai Quoc rose early, bathed in the stream, did his morning exercises, and then went to work on a rock at the edge of Lenin Stream. As always, he spent much of his time editing, this time working on the Party’s local newspaper, Viet Nam Doc Lap (Independent Vietnam), which was produced on a stone lithograph. Meals consisted of rice mixed with minced meat or with fish from the stream. In the evening, the group would gather at the edge of the cave, where Nguyen Ai Quoc lectured to his colleagues on world history and modern revolutions.”

Later on, they were often forced to forage for food. It must have been extraordinarily tough for the veteran revolutionary, by now in his fifties, to endure the life of a mountain guerrilla. However, he did so without complaining. “When spirits flagged or enthusiasm grew to excess, he counseled his comrades: ‘Patience, calmness, and vigilance, those are the things that a revolutionary must never forget.’”

The key event from this period is the formation of the Viet Minh front on 19 May 1941, in the cave at Pac Bo. The Viet Minh was formed as an anti-imperialist front to unite all forces, communist and nationalist, in a single fighting organisation able to rid the country of colonial occupiers. In the space of a few years, its membership grew to over half a million (out of a total population of less then 25 million). A leaflet announcing the Viet Minh’s existence describes the broad class basis of the front, pointing out that, in the conditions then prevailing, maximum unity must be forged in order to defeat the French:

” The problem of class struggle will continue to exist. But at the present time, the nation has prime importance, and all demands that are of benefit to a specific class but are harmful to the national interest must be subordinated to the survival of the nation. At this moment, if we do not resolve the problem of national liberation, and do not demand independence and freedom for the entire people, then not only will the entire people of our nation continue to live the life of beasts, but also the particular interests of individual social classes will not be achieved for thousands of years.”

In August 1942, Ho made his way back over the border to China in a bid to shore up international support for the Vietnamese revolution. He didn’t get very far before he was captured by the Chinese authorities and placed in prison under suspicion of being a spy. After enduring horrific conditions for over a year (during which time he contracted tuberculosis), he was finally released in September 1943 on the condition that he coordinate with the Kuomintang.

Meanwhile events were proceeding at a fast pace inside Vietnam. A pamphlet distributed in early 1944 shows that the Viet Minh leadership had an extremely clear-sighted understanding of the local and international situation: “Zero hour is near. Germany is almost beaten, and her defeat will lead to Japan’s. Then the Americans and the Chinese will move into Indochina while the Gaullists rise against the Japanese. The latter may well topple the French fascists prior to this, and set up a military government… Indochina will be reduced to anarchy. We shall not even need to seize power, for there will be no power… Our impending uprising will be carried out in highly favourable conditions, without parallel in the history of our country. The occasion being propitious and the factors favourable, it would be unforgivable not to take advantage of them. It would be a crime against the history of our country.”(cited in Jean Lacouture, ‘Ho Chi Minh’)

With precisely such a power vacuum starting to emerge in late 1944, the Viet Minh started to expand its base outwards from Cao Bang, with units under the command of General Giap pushing further and further south, creating extensive liberated areas.

With the Japanese surrender of 15 August 1945, Viet Minh forces launched the August Revolution. On 17 August, Ho read out his appeal to the people of Vietnam to take power:

” The decisive hour in the destiny of our people has struck. Let us stand up with all our strength to liberate ourselves! Many oppressed peoples the world over are vying with one another in the march to win back their independence. We cannot allow ourselves to lag behind. Forward! Forward! Under the banner of the Viet Minh Front, move forward courageously!”

Two days later Hanoi was liberated, and within a few days the Viet Minh had established power throughout the country. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was born. On 2 September, Ho Chi Minh read out the Declaration of Independence in the Ba Dinh square in Hanoi, to a crowd of over half a million ecstatic Vietnamese.

Immediately, the new government, led by President Ho Chi Minh, started to deal with the most pressing problems: eradicating famine, eradicating illiteracy, redistributing land, setting up a stable government, and organising local militia units across the country to defend the revolution from the combination of French, US, British and Chinese forces that would almost certainly seek to reverse it.

Just over a year later, in spite of the generous concessions offered by Ho’s negotiating team, France went to war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in a bid to maintain its domination of the region. The Viet Minh returned to guerrilla warfare, and Vietnam’s president and the rest of the leadership returned to the northeastern mountains. Duiker writes: “With his return to the Viet Bac in late December 1946, Ho Chi Minh resumed the life that had appeared to come to an end with his election as president during the August Revolution of 1945. He arrived at the old base area with an entourage of eight men, comprising his personal bodyguard and those responsible for liaison with other units and for food preparation. The group erected a long hut built of bamboo and thatch that was divided into two rooms… To guard against wild animals, they obtained a shepherd dog, but it was soon killed and eaten by a tiger. Ho and his companions led a simple life. Their meals consisted of a little rice garnished with sautéed wild vegetables. On occasion, they were able to supplement their meager fare with small chunks of salted meat, thinly sliced and served with peppers. Ho laughingly described it as ‘conserves du Vietminh.’ Sometimes food was short, and all suffered from hunger… During the day, Ho worked on the ground floor, but at night he slept on the upper floor as protection against wild beasts and the humidity. His bedding consisted solely of a mosquito net and his clothing. When the group was compelled to move (by the end of the decade, Ho would live in at least twenty different houses as he continually escaped detection by the French), they were able to pack up and leave in minutes. Ho carried a few books and documents in a small bag, while his companions took charge of his typewriter.”

Duiker adds some fascinating detail as to Ho’s role during the war: “In the liberated zone, Ho Chi Minh was highly visible, acting not only as a war strategist, but also as chief recruiter and cheerleader for the revolutionary cause. In February 1952, a released French POW reported that Ho was seen everywhere at the front, in the villages, in the rice fields, and at local cadre meetings. Dressed like a simple peasant, he moved tirelessly among his followers, cajoling his audiences and encouraging them to sacrifice all for the common objective. Although living conditions in the liberated zone were probably somewhat better than they had been during the final months of World War II, French bombing raids on the area were frequent and Ho continued to change his residence every three to five days to avoid detection or capture. Although he was now over sixty, Ho was still capable of walking thirty miles a day, a pack on his back, over twisting mountain trails. He arose early to do exercises. After the workday was over, he played volleyball or swam and read in the evening.”

From this point, the story of Ho Chi Minh’s life becomes one and the same as the history of the Vietnamese victory over France (1954), the building of socialism in the north, the support for guerrilla struggle in the south, and the era-defining war against US imperialism. More on all of this can be found in my recent article on the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Saigon.

Ho Chi Minh died on 2 September 1969, at the age of 79. Although he had played a reduced role in the last few years of his life (due to ill health), he remained a major contributor, particularly in negotiations and foreign relations. Eulogies flooded in for this outstanding leader of the global anti-imperialist movement – according to Duiker, the Hanoi authorities received more than 22,000 messages from 121 countries offering condolences to the Vietnamese people.

Ho’s legacy is as powerful and as relevant today as it ever was; his name remains synonymous with determined struggle for freedom, with the spirit of unity, with heroism, selflessness, perseverance, moral uprightness, and with the global fight against imperialism and for socialism. He was unquestionably one of the greatest leaders in the history of the anti-imperialist and communist movement.

Quotes

Unity

Unity is an extremely precious tradition of our Party and people. All comrades, from the Central Committee down to the cells, must preserve the unity and oneness of mind in the Party as the apple of their eye. (Quoted by former Communist Party General Secretary, Le Kha Phieu in ‘Party building and unification – biggest challenge’, Voice of Vietnam online, 1 September 2014).

Without this unity we would be like an orchestra in which the drums play one way and the horns another. It would not be possible for us to lead the masses and make revolution (On Revolutionary Morality, 1958)

Our people must learn the word ‘unity’: unity of spirit, unity of effort, unity of hearts, unity of action. (quoted in Duiker)

The war against colonialism

We, a small nation, will have earned the signal honour of defeating, through heroic struggle, two big imperialisms – the French and the American – and of making a worthy contribution to the world national liberation movement. (Last Testament, 1969)

At Dien Bien Phu], for the first time in history a small colony had defeated a big colonial power. This was a victory not only of our people but also of the world forces of peace, democracy and socialism.(Thirty years of activity of the Party, 1960)

The Vietnamese people are waging the greatest war of resistance in their history. For the sake of the independence and freedom of the Fatherland, in the interest of the socialist camp, the oppressed peoples and progressive mankind, we are fighting and defeating the most cruel enemy of humanity. In our land a fierce struggle is taking place between justice and injustice, between civilisation and barbarity. The people of the brother socialist countries and progressive people all over the world are turning their eyes toward Viet Nam and warmly congratulating our compatriots and fighters. (Appeal on the occasion of July 20, 1968)

Our people are very heroic. Our line is most correct. We have justice on our side. We are inspired by an unbending will and determination to fight and win. We have the invincible force of the unity of our entire people and enjoy the sympathy and support of all progressive mankind. The US imperialists are sure to be defeated! Our people are sure to be victorious! Compatriots and fighters in the whole country, march forward! (ibid)

Our resistance is by all the people and is in turn a people’s war. Thirty-one million compatriots in the two regions, irrespective of sex and age, must be thirty-one million heroic combatants to fight the US for national salvation … Unity, unity, great unity; success, success, great success. (Ho Chi Minh, cited in ‘The anti-US war for national salvation – a great victory of ability and intelligence’ by General Vo Nguyen Giap, 2005)

Johnson and his clique should realize this: they may bring in half a million, a million or even more troops to step up their war of aggression in South Vietnam. They may use thousands of aircraft for intensified attacks against North Vietnam. But never will they be able to break the iron will of the heroic Vietnamese people, their determination to fight against American aggression, for national salvation. The more truculent they grow, the more serious their crimes. They war may last five, ten, twenty or more years; Hanoi, Haiphong and other cities and enterprises may be destroyed; but the Vietnamese people will not be intimidated! Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom. Once victory is won, our people will rebuild their country and make it even more prosperous and beautiful. (Appeal to compatriots and fighters throughout the country, 17 July 1966).

Our people are living a most glorious period of history. Our country has the great honour of being an outpost of the socialist camp and of the world’s peoples fighting against imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism. Our people are fighting and making sacrifices not only for their own freedom and independence, but also for the freedom and independence of other peoples and for world peace. On the battlefront against the US imperialist aggressors, our people’s task is very heavy but also very glorious. (Address to the Second Session of the Third National Assembly of the DRVN, April 10, 1965).

You must know of our resolution. Not even your nuclear weapons would force us to surrender after so long and violent a struggle for the independence of our country (quoted by Alden Whitman, ‘Ho Chi Minh was noted for success in blending nationalism and communism’, New York Times, 4 September 1969).

US imperialism is the main enemy of world peace, consequently we must concentrate our forces against it. (Report to the 6th Plenum of the VietNam Workers’ Party Central Committee (July 15, 1954).

The Vietnamese people’s future is as bright as the sun in spring. Overjoyed at the radiance of the sun in spring, we shall struggle for the splendid future of Viet Nam, for the future of democracy, world peace and socialism. We triumph at the present time, we shall triumph in the future, because our path is enlightened by the great Marxist-Leninist doctrine (The imperialist aggressors can never enslave the heroic Vietnamese people, 1952).

Unity between the socialist and anti-imperialist movements

Lenin laid the basis for a new and truly revolutionary era in the colonies. He was the first to denounce resolutely all the prejudices which still persisted in the minds of many European and American revolutionaries… He was the first to realise and assess the full importance of drawing the colonial peoples into the revolutionary movement. He was the first to point out that, without the participation of the colonial peoples, the socialist revolution could not come about… Lenin’s strategy on this question has been applied by communist parties all over the world, and has won over the best and most active elements in the colonies to the communist movement. (Lenin and the colonial peoples, 1925)

Anti-war movement

To the American people who are courageously opposing the aggressive war waged by the US government, I convey my greetings on behalf of the Vietnamese people. Let them intensify their opposition to the US government’s aggressive war in Vietnam so as to prevent their sons and brothers from being use as cannon-fodder for the private interests of their oppressors and exploiters. Officers and soldiers of the United States and its satellites, who have been driven into this criminal war, listen to reason! There is no enmity between you and the Vietnamese people. The US imperialists are forcing you to serve as cannon-fodder and die in their place. They are doomed to defeat. Demand your repatriation so that you can be re-united with your parents, wives and children! The Vietnamese people will support your struggle (Appeal on the occasion of July 20, 1965).

Revolutionary morality

Ours is a party in power. Each Party member, each cadre must be deeply imbued with revolutionary morality, and show industry, thrift, integrity, uprightness, total dedication to the public interest and complete selflessness. Our Party should preserve absolute purity and prove worthy of its role as the leader and very loyal servant of the people. (Ho Chi Minh’s Testament, 10 May 1969).)

To make the revolution, to transform the old society into a new one is a very glorious, but also extremely heavy task, a complex, protracted and hard struggle. Only a strong man can travel a long distance with a heavy load on his back. A revolutionary must have a solid foundation of revolutionary morality in order to fulfil his glorious revolutionary task. (On revolutionary morality, 1958).

Individualism is something very deceitful and perfidious, it skilfully induces one to backslide. And everybody knows that it is easier to backslide than to progress. That is why it is very dangerous. To shake off the bad vestiges of the old society and to cultivate revolutionary virtues, we must study hard, and educate and reform ourselves in order to progress continuously. Otherwise we shall retrogress and lag behind, and shall eventually be rejected by the forward-moving society (ibid).

Separated from the Party and the class, no individual, however talented, can achieve anything (ibid).

Revolutionary morality does not fall from the sky. It is developed and consolidated through persevering daily struggle and effort. Like jade, the more it is polished the more it shines. Like gold, it grows ever purer as it goes into the melting pot. What can be a greater source of happiness and glory than to cultivate one’s revolutionary morality so as to bring a worthy contribution to the building of socialism and the liberation of mankind! (ibid).

No system equals socialism and communism in showing respect for man, paying due attention to his legitimate individual interests and ensuring that they be satisfied. In a society ruled by the exploiting class only the individual interests of a few people belonging to this class are met, whereas those of the toiling masses are trampled underfoot. But in the socialist and communist systems, of which the labouring people are the masters, each man is a part of the collective, plays a definite role in it and contributes his part to society. That is why the interests of the individual lies within those of the collective and are part of them. Only when the latter are secured can the former be satisfied (ibid).

Revolutionary ideology

At first, patriotism, not yet communism, led me to have confidence in Lenin, in the Third International. Step by step, along the struggle, by studying Marxism-Leninism parallel with participation in practical activities, I gradually came upon the fact that only socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery ( The path which led me to Leninism, April 1960).

All Party members should strive to study Marxism-Leninism, strengthen their proletarian class stand, grasp the laws of development of the Vietnamese revolution, elevate their revolutionary morality, vigorously combat individualism, foster proletarian collectivism, be industrious and thrifty in the work for national construction, build close contacts with the labouring masses, and struggle whole-heartedly for the interests of the revolution and the Fatherland (ibid.).

Cultural imperialism

In the areas still under his temporary occupation, the enemy strives to disseminate a depraved culture and hooli-ganism in order to poison our people, especially our youth. He seeks to use religions to divide our people (Ho Chi Minh, Selected Writings, Foreign Langu-ages Publishing House, 1977, p.160).

The split in the world communist movement

Being a man who has devoted his whole life to the revolution, the more proud I am of the growth of the international communist and workers’ movement, the more pained I am by the current discord among the fraternal Parties. I hope that our Party will do its best to contribute effectively to the restoration of unity among the fraternal Parties on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, in a way which conforms to both reason and sentiment. I am firmly confident that the fraternal Parties and countries will have to unite again ( Ho Chi Minh’s Testament, 10 May 1969).

We fully believe that the differences in the international communist movement will be resolved. Marxism-Leninism will certainly be victorious, the socialist camp and the international communist movement will grow ever more united and powerful. By giving a strong impetus to the revolutionary struggle of the working class and the world’s people they will win ever greater victories for peace, national independence, democracy and socialism. ( Report at the Special Political Conference, 27 March 1964).

Guerrilla warfare

What matters the most is that our armed forces, be they regulars, regional or guerrillas, must hold fast to the people; divorce from the latter will surely lead to defeat. To cling to the people means to win their hearts, gain their confidence and affection. This will allow us to overcome any difficulty and achieve sure success. (Instructions given at a Conference on Guerrilla Warfare, July 1952).

The aim of guerrilla warfare is not to wage large-scale battles and win big victories, but to nibble at the enemy, harass him in such a way that he can neither eat nor sleep in peace, to give him no respite, to wear him out physically and mentally, and finally to annihilate him. Wherever he goes, he should be attacked by our guerrillas, stumble on land mines or be greeted by sniper fire ( ibid.).

It will be a war between an elephant and a tiger. If the tiger ever stands still the elephant will crush him with his mighty tusks. But the tiger does not stand still. He lurks in the jungle by day and emerges by night. He will leap upon the back of the elephant, tearing huge chunks from his hide, and then he will leap back into the dark jungle. And slowly the elephant will bleed to death. That will be the war of Indochina (quoted by Duiker, op.cit.)

Secrecy, always secrecy. Let the enemy think you’re to the west when you are in the east. Attack by surprise and retreat before the enemy can respond… Stealth, continual stealth. Never attack except by surprise. Retire before the enemy has a chance to strike back. (quoted by Duiker, op.cit.)

Remember that the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.( Quoted by Olivia Kroth, ‘Russia’s return to Vietnam’, 4 March 2013, English Pra vda online).

Racism and the national question

It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching… Thanks to the slave traders, the Ku Klux Klan and other secret societies, the illegal and barbarous practice of lynching is spreading and continuing widely in the states of the American Union. It has become more inhuman since the emancipation of the Blacks, and is especially directed at the latter. The Negroes, having learned during the war that they are a force if united, are no longer allowing their kinsmen to be beaten or murdered with impunity (Report to the Fifth Congress of the Communist International, July 1924 ).

All the martyrs of the working class, those in Lausanne like those in Paris, those in Le Havre like those in Martinique, are victims of the same murderer: international capitalism. And it is always in belief in the liberation of their oppressed brothers, without discrimination as to race or country, that the souls of these martyrs will find supreme consolation. (Oppression hits all races, 17 August 1923).

Our country is a united multi-national country. All nationalities living on Vietnamese territory are equal in rights and duties. All the nationalities in our country are fraternally bound together; they share a common territory and in the course of our long history have worked and fought side by side in order to build our beautiful Fatherland ( Report on the draft amended Constitution, 18 December, 1959).

Imperialism and feudalism deliberately sought to undermine the solidarity and equality between the nationalities and to sow discord among them and carried out a ‘divide-and-rule’ policy. Our Party and Government have constantly called on the nationalities to forget all enmities caused by imperialism and feudalism and to unite closely on the basis of equality in rights and duties. The minority nationalities have, side by side with their brothers of the majority nationality, fought against their common enemies, and brought the August Revolution and the war of resistance to success. Since the restoration of peace, our State has helped the brotherly nationalities to achieve further progress in the economic, cultural and social fields (ibid).

The October Revolution and the socialist camp

Like the shining sun, the October Revo-lution illuminated the five continents, and awakened millions and millions of oppressed and exploited people. In human history, there had never been a revolution with such great and profound significance (The great October Revolution opened the road of liberation to all peoples, October 1967).

Our Party has matured and developed in the favourable international conditions created by the victory of the Russian Socialist October Revolution. All achievements of our Party and people are inseparable from the fraternal support of the Soviet Union, People’s China and the other socialist countries, the international Communist and workers’ movement and the national-liberation movement and the peace movement in the world. If we have been able to surmount all difficulties and lead our working class and people to the present glorious victories this is because the Party has coordinated the revolutionary movement in our country with the revo-lutionary movement of the world working class and the oppressed peoples (Thirty years of activity of the Party, 1960).

After nearly half a century of struggle, the imperialist and feudal domination was not yet overthrown and our country was not yet independent. It was then that the Russian October Revolution broke out and won glorious victory. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was founded. The colonial system of imperialism began to collapse. The Soviet Union brought to the oppressed peoples a model of equal relationships between the nations. The oppressed peoples of the world saw that only by relying on socialist revolution and following the line of the working class was it possible to overthrow the imperialists, win back complete national independence and realize genuine equality among the nations. The Russian October Revolution welded the socialist revolutionary movement and the revolutionary movement for national liberation into an anti-imperialist front. ( Report on the draft amended Constitution,op.cit.).

In the eyes of the peoples of the east, Lenin was not only a leader, a commander. He irresistibly attracted our hearts. Our respect for him was close to filial piety, one of the fundamental virtues in our country. For us, the victims of ill-treatment and humiliation, Lenin was the embodiment of human fraternity.” (cited by Yevgeny Kobelev – Ho Chi Minh)

Lenin is dead! This news struck people like a bolt from the blue. It spread to every corner of the fertile plains of Africa and the green fields of Asia. It is true that the black or yellow people do not yet know clearly who Lenin is or where Russia is… But all of them, from the Vietnamese peasants to the hunters in the Dahomey forests, have secretly learnt that in a faraway corner of the earth there is a nation that has succeeded in overthrowing its exploiters… They have also heard that that country is Russia, that there are courageous people there, and that the most courageous of them all was Lenin (ibid).

Building socialism and educating the masses

The present society in the North is one of working people who are collective masters of the country and uphold the spirit of self reliance, industry and thrift in order to build socialism and a new life for themselves and for all generations to come. The present society in the North is a great family formed by all strata of the population, all fraternal nationalities, closely united and helping each other, sharing weal and woe and working for the common interests of the Fatherland. Our regime is a new regime; our people are cultivating new ethics; the socialist ethics of working people: “one for all and all for one” (Report at the Special Political Conference, op.cit.).

In simple terms, the aim of socialism is to free the working people from poverty, provide them with employment, make them happy and prosperous. (Thirty years of activity of the Party, 1960).

To defeat the imperialists and feudalists is relatively easy, but to do away with poverty and backwardness is much more difficult (quoted by Pham Van Dong – a man, a nation, an age and a cause).

To reap a return in ten years, plant trees. To reap a return in 100, cultivate the people.

Formerly, when they ruled over our country, the French colonialists carried out a policy of obscurantism. They limited the number of schools; they did not want us to get an education so that they could deceive and exploit us all the more easily. Ninety-five per cent of the total population received no schooling, which means that nearly all Vietnamese were illiterate. How could we have progressed in such conditions? Now that we have won back independence, one of the most urgent tasks at present is to raise the people’s cultural level. Every one of you must know his rights and duties. He must possess knowledge so as to be able to participate in the building of the country. First of all he must learn to read and write. Let the literates teach the illiterates; let them take part in mass education. Let the illiterates study hard. The husband will teach his wife, the elder brother his junior, the children their parents, the master his servants; the rich will open classes for illiterates in their own houses. The women should study even harder for up to now many obstacles have stood in their way. It is high time now for them to catch up with the men and be worthy of their status of citizens with full electoral rights. I hope that young people of both sexes will eagerly participate in this work (Appeal to fight illiteracy, October 1945).

Workers and peasants have a lot of work to do. If the method of teaching is not suitable to the learners, to their work and mode of life, if we expect classes provided with tables and benches, we cannot be successful. The organization of teaching should be in accordance with the living conditions of the learners, then the movement will last and bear good results. Our compatriots are still poor and cannot afford paper and pens, therefore a small pocket exercise-book is enough for each person. Reading and writing exercises can be done anywhere, using charcoal, the ground or banana leaves as pens and paper. Clandestine cadres had to teach and make one person literate every three months. At that time, there was no assistance from the Government, no Ministry, or department in charge of educational problems, but in such precarious conditions, the movement kept developing, like oil spreading, the literate teaching the illiterate. (Instructions given at the conference reviewing the mass education in the first half of 1956, 16 July 1956).

The worker-peasant alliance

The victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible in rural and semirural countries if the revolutionary proletariat is not actively supported by the mass of the peasant population…. In China, in India, in Latin America, in many European countries (Balkan countries, Rumania, Poland, Italy, France, Spain, etc.) the decisive ally of the proletariat in the revolution will be the peasant population. Only if the revolutionary wave sets in motion the rural masses under the leadership of the proletariat, will the revolution be able to triumph. Hence the exceptional importance of Party agitation in the countryside. (quoted by Duiker, op.cit.)

Revolutionary art

Literature and art are also a fighting front. You are fighters on this front. Like other fighters, you combatants on the artistic front have definite responsibilities: to serve the Resistance, the Fatherland and the people, first and foremost the workers, peasants and soldiers. To fulfil your tasks, you must have a firm political stand and a sound ideology; in short you must place the interests of the Resistance, the Fatherland and the people above all… Some of you may think: President Ho is trying to link art to politics. That is right. Culture and art, like all other activities, cannot stand aloof from economics and politics, but must be included in them (To the artists on the occasion of the 1951 painting exhibition, December 10, 1951) .

Compromise

Lenin said that one should make a compromise even with bandits if it was advantageous to the revolution. We needed peace to build our country, and therefore we forced ourselves to make concessions in order to maintain peace. Although the French colonialists broke their word and unleashed war, nearly one year of temporary peace had given us time to build up our basic forces (Political Report at the Second National Congress of the Viet Nam Workers’ Party, February 1951).

Manure is dirty; but if it’s good for the rice plants, would you refuse to use it? (quoted in Duiker, op.cit.)

Some people, intoxicated with our repeated victories, want to fight on at all costs, to a finish; they see only the trees, not the whole forest; with their attention focused on the withdrawal of the French they fail to detect their schemes; they see the French but not the Americans; they are partial to military action and make light of diplomacy. They are unaware that we are struggling in international conferences as well as on the battlefields in order to attain our goal. They will oppose the new slogans, which they deem to be rightist manifestations and to imply too many concessions. They set forth excessive conditions unacceptable to the enemy. They want quick results, unaware that the struggle for peace is a hard and complex one. Leftist deviation will cause one to be isolated, alienated from one’s own people and those of the world, and suffer setbacks. Rightist deviation will lead to pessimism, inaction and unprincipled concessions. It causes one to lack confidence in the people’s strength and to blunt their combative spirit; to lose the power to endure hardships and to aspire only to a quiet and easy life. Leftist and rightist tendencies are both wrong. They will be exploited by the enemy; they will benefit them and harm us (Report to the 6th Plenum of the Viet Nam Workers’ Party Central Committee, July 15, 1954) .

 

 

Posted in USA, Far EastComments Off on Fifty years on the frontline: the revolutionary contributions of Ho Chi Minh

The Death of a Charming Charlatan

NOVANEWS
Image result for Ahmed Chalabi PHOTO
C.I.A puppet Ahmed Chalabi ‘SHOAH’
By Karen Kwiatkowski 

Ahmed Chalabi, age 71, has died of a heart attack in Baghdad. As a close observer of his unique role in provoking the Iraq War – a foreign policy and strategic military disaster 12 years ago – I can’t help but look back on that time as an age of innocence. That may sound ironic, but I think it’s true given that many Americans now see that even elections don’t change much.

As painful as it was to watch the U.S. government plunge into the Iraq War based on false WMD warnings – raised in part by Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress – there was still a sense of hope back then that the truth could be told and the culprits could be held accountable. That seems now to have been a naïve dream.

In 2003, Chalabi was on track to become the new leader of Iraq, just as soon as Paul Wolfowitz’s projected “cakewalk” was finished. Towards this end, he was using, and being used by, the neoconservative cabal of Bush/Cheney appointees in the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the State Department.

Yet, despite the fact that the “cakewalk” turned into a blood-soaked grind – and has now spread disorder across the Middle East and into Europe – many of the same men and a few women are still advising and influencing the Obama administration’s security policies toward Eastern Europe, the Mideast, Russia and China.

Now, as then, this group of neocons and their “liberal interventionist” pals lack the good sense that God gave a chicken. They still march off without a recognizable moral compass (even as they assert their moral superiority) and still without the slightest respect for either the Constitution or the soldiers and marines they gleefully send into harms’ way.

At least with Chalabi, in the early 2000s, the U.S. government had a dapper and hopeful spokesperson for what Iraq was supposed to become. Some saw Chalabi as smooth while others viewed him as oily – a conman with his own checkered past – but he was purported to be the kind of modern Iraqi who could make Iraq a better place.

Chalabi’s optimism, his delusions of grandeur, and his faith in the conspiracy of empire led him to the hubris of the neocons, those vainglorious sorcerers wielding the bureaucratic power of the Pentagon and the White House. Together, they were a perfect match. Chalabi’s fantasies for Iraq were the natural product of his fundamental criminality, but his delusions also were vital to the neocons as they spun their spell to entrance the American public.

Still, Chalabi could be understood as a character in a Edith Wharton novel, trapped in his own era, not overly complex, but certainly earnest. The same cannot be said for the American neo-conservatives who used him. Even in his guile there was a sense of guilelessness. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq failed to turn up the promised WMD or confirm Saddam Hussein’s alleged links to Al Qaeda, Chalabi defended the falsehoods, calling himself “a hero in error.”

There was a time when I saw Chalabi as a big part of our foreign policy conundrum, but the past decade has shown us where the real evil lies. Today, I see Chalabi more as a victim of his bad assumptions about the neoconservatives, who privately celebrate the cost, chaos, destruction and decimation of whole countries and cultures, in the name of their twisted vision.

Unheeded Warnings

In 2003, the canaries in this dark coal mine were warning about the lies told by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and political appointees throughout Washington to justify an American satrapy in Iraq. While some of us could see a future far grimmer, far more dangerous, and far more destructive than the ne-ocon promises of American soldiers being welcomed by children throwing flowers and candy – many Americans could not. Chalabi was a useful part of why that was.

The warnings from government whistleblowers, knowledgeable observers around the world, and independent-minded journalists and historians were hushed, silenced and buried until Iraq was burning and a quarter of that country’s population had been made refugees by an unwinnable war and a hated occupation.

It took years for the fraud committed by the neo-conservatives, their allies in mainstream media, and the Bush administration to sink in, though many Americans still appear confused as to how they should assess what happened. The bottom line is that what occurred was a crime against the American people, the Constitution, international law, the Iraqis and their neighbors. Yet, there has been a stunning lack of accountability for the culprits who perpetrated this crime.

A dozen years after the war began, Chalabi’s promised golden age for Iraq and the Middle East has turned to dross. Today, it is common knowledge that the “word” of the United States is rarely good. Today, the world understands the ambitions of the United States as reptilian rather than republican, driven by a kind of rabid hostility and covetousness that in 2003 most did not easily perceive.

Today, to seek a partnership with the Pentagon or State Department as you try to shape your own small country’s history means you are more gambler than statesman, more fool that patriot.

The actions of the United States in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Ukraine, Egypt, Libya and Syria – alliances of greed and dependency that Washington has maintained throughout this era – reveal an ugly truth. U.S. foreign policy is not about democracy and self-determination, it is not about hope. Rather, it is about crony capitalism, old-style imperialism, theft and tyranny, all wrapped up in a maelstrom of bureaucratic infighting and budget padding.

No one is trusted in the conduct of America’s never-ending “wars.” Today, when a Russian airliner crashes, the U.S. is as likely to be blamed as a terrorist group, and the terrorist groups themselves are differentiated by their degree of U.S. support and their use of U.S. weaponry – with some Suadi jihadists in Syria now firing U.S.-supplied TOW missiles and being hailed by U.S. politicians as “our guys.”

We’ve come a long way since 9/11 when President Bush said aiding or harbouring a terrorist made one as guilty as the terrorist.

Since 2003, many Americans have discovered that their political leadership is addicted to arrogant mayhem. What worked to create public support for foreign wars in 2003 is now laughed at, or ignored, by a cynical citizenry. We have learned to distrust our government, on issues both foreign and domestic.

Chalabi, though his passing has been little noticed and less mourned, reminds us of how U.S. foreign policy with its military adventurism was formed and still is formed. The world that made him a celebrity now faces the cold reality of the widening chaos that is the result of the past dozen years.

We may not see another charlatan like Chalabi soon. One surely can hope that Americans would quickly spot a new Chalabi today and discount the optimistic messaging that he or she is selling. In a troubling way, that is a good thing. These days, the U.S. President no longer even attempts to sell new wars, invasions, occupations and assassinations to the war-exhausted public. He just conducts them in the shadows.

Chalabi’s passing reminds us that we live in a post-heroic world, where the U.S. war machine rumbles along on borrowed money – without a coherent strategy, vision, success or accountability and also without a soul and without heroes. That sad fact is certainly worth a moment of quiet reflection.

 

Posted in IraqComments Off on The Death of a Charming Charlatan

EU panel slams Kiev’s probe into Odessa 2014 tragedy for lack of independence

NOVANEWS
Image result for Odessa 2014 tragedy PHOTO
RT 

An EU panel on Ukraine has slammed Kiev’s investigation into the May 2014 violence in Ukraine’s southern city of Odessa, saying it lacks independence. It also added there’s evidence that police were complicit in the disorder.

The Council of Europe’s International Advisory Panel said in a statement on Wednesday the probe failed to comply with the requirements of the European Human Rights Convention.

On May 2, 2014, Ukrainian ultra-right football fans attacked an anti-Kiev protesters’ camp outside the Trade Unions Building in central Odessa. Football hooligans were soon joined by Maidan activists – supporters of the pro-EU February protests in Kiev – and members of the Right Sector group. Violent clashes and a fire in the Trade Union Building led to 48 deaths and several hundred people were injured.

The Council of Europe’s International Advisory Panel found that the investigations lacked independence, pointing toward police complicity in the violence.

“Given the evidence indicative of police complicity in the mass disorder of 2 May 2014 and the hierarchical relationship between the SES [State Emergency Service] and the Ministry of the Interior, the investigations as a whole should have been carried by an organ independent of the Ministry,” the report states.

The Panel stressed that this calls for “an independent and effective mechanism for the investigation of serious human rights violations committed by law enforcement officers and other public officials.”

The report pointed to inefficient division of investigative work and inadequately allocated resources. The investigation of the actions of the SES was allocated to the local Ministry of the Interior, which remained inactive during the crucial early stages of the investigation.

The panel also stressed the “deficient quality of the investigation,” saying there were no efforts made until December 2014 to investigate the unexplained delay of over 40 minutes in the arrival of firefighters at the Trade Union Building.

The Panel also found that Ukrainian authorities failed to provide sufficient public scrutiny of the events.

“In contrast to the Maidan investigations, the authorities did not take any coordinated measures directly and regularly to inform the victims and next-of-kin about the progress of the investigations.”

The International Advisory Panel was constituted by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in April 2014, initially to oversee the Maidan violence investigations. In September 2014, the Panel’s mandate was extended to examine whether the Odessa investigations met all the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court.

To conclude, the Panel “considers that the deficiencies identified in this Report have undermined the authorities’ ability to establish the circumstances of the Odessa-related crimes and to bring to justice those responsible.”

As for their initial analysis into Ukraine’s investigation of the Maidan demonstrations, the Panel called Ukraine’s Interior Ministry “uncooperative and obstructive” and the investigation not meeting the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights

Posted in Europe, UkraineComments Off on EU panel slams Kiev’s probe into Odessa 2014 tragedy for lack of independence

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